Team responsibility structure_and_team_performance

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Team responsibility structure_and_team_performance

  1. 1. T h e res ea rc h re g ister fo r th is jo u rn a l is a v a ila b le a t T h e c u rre n t is su e a n d fu ll te x t a rc h iv e o f th is jo u rn a l is a v a ila b le a t http://www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregisters http://www.emeraldinsight.com/0048-3486.htmPersonnelReview Team responsibility structure31,3 and team performance Hans Doorewaard356 Nijmegen School of Management, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands Geert Van Hootegem Nijmegen School of Management, University of Nijmegen and Department of Sociology of Labour and Organisation, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and Rik Huys Department of Sociology of Labour and Organisation, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium Keywords Teamwork, Human resource management, Performance, Self-managing teams Abstract The purpose is to analyse the impact of team responsibility (the division of job regulation tasks between team leader and team members) on team performance. It bases an analysis on 36 case studies in The Netherlands which are known to have implemented team-based work. The case studies were executed in 1997 by means of face-to-face interviews with HRM staff and line management. It concludes from the analyses that two different types of team responsibility prevail. In a ``hierarchical team’’ team leaders take responsibility for decisions concerning work preparation, support and control, while in the ``shared-responsibility team’’ decisions are taken by the team members themselves. The analyses show that ``shared- responsibility teams’’ are thought to contribute more substantially to team performance outcomes than ``hierarchical teams’’. The analysis helped gain a better understanding of the relationship between HRM and organisation performance, as it is viewed in the ``human resource-based view of the firm’’. Section 1. Introduction Considering its prominent place in the prevailing organisational discourse, team-based work has proven to be a favourite formula for organisational redesign. It is a promising concept which offers autonomy, responsibility and job enrichment in order to meet the aspirations of the employees. At the same time, team-based work is believed to enhance performance outcomes such as productivity and quality, on both the team and the organisation level. Hence, management fashions such as business process re-engineering, lean production, the modern socio-technical approach and human resources management (HRM), all embrace the core principles of team-based work (Benders and Van Hootegem, 1999; de Sitter et al., 1997; Kuipers and van Amelsvoort, 1990; Kleinschmidt and Pekruhl, 1995; Womack et al., 1991). A major argument for introducing and for developing team-based work stems from recent insights into the impact of human resources onPersonnel Review, organisational performance. In the current debate on HRM, the ``resource-basedVol. 31 No. 3, 2002, pp. 356-370.# MCB UP Limited, 0048-3486 view of the firm’’ states that the intangible, imperfectly imitable andDOI 10.1108/00483480210422750 imperfectly substitutable internal resources of the organisation enable a firm to
  2. 2. generate and to sustain its competitive advantage (Doorewaard and Meihuizen, Team2000). This statement is true especially with regard to the impact of human responsibilityresources on organisational performance in team-based work organisations.The performance in team-based working largely depends on the employees’ structurecompetencies and attitudes with regard to planning, performing andcontrolling team tasks in an autonomous way. When analysing which features of team-based work add to the enhancement 357of team performance, management literature (for example, de Sitter et al., 1997)focuses in particular on the team responsibility structure: i.e. the division of jobregulation tasks between team leader and team members. A larger allocation ofjob regulation tasks within the team among the team members is supposed tocontribute more effectively to organisational goals than the allocation of thesetasks to a separate team leader. However, hardly any empirical evidence existsregarding the relationship between team responsibility structure and teamperformance (Benders et al., 1999). Based on the results of a ``quick-scan’’-research, which was carried out in 1997 in 36 different organisations in TheNetherlands, our paper aims at clarifying the impact of the structure of teamresponsibilities on team performance. In order to do this, we distinguishbetween teams with a high level of team member responsibility (``shared-responsibility teams’’) versus teams with a low level of team memberresponsibility (``hierarchical teams’’). The purpose of our research is to analysethe perceptions of managers and HRM staff with regard to the impact these twotypes of team responsibility can have on team performance outcomes. In Section 2, we develop a simple, diagnostic framework of the relationshipbetween types of team responsibility and team performance outcomes. After ashort presentation of our research methodology in Section 3, and an analysis ofthe two types of team responsibility structures in our sample (Section 4), wethen focus in Section 5 on the impact of team responsibility structures on teamperformances. In Section 6, we discuss the contribution of our analysis towardsachieving a better understanding of how team responsibility structures have aninfluence on team and organisational performance.Section 2. Team responsibility structure and team performanceThe human resource-based view of the firmIn order to point out the importance of human resources in gaining a firm’ssustainable competitive advantage, HRM literature refers to the ``resource-based view of the firm’’ (for example, Barney, 1991; Boxall, 1996; Penrose, 1959;Wernerfelt, 1984). While investigating which features of internal resourcesdetermine whether or not these resources contribute to the sustainability ofrents, the ``resource-based view of the firm’’ points to intangibility, imperfectimitability and imperfect substitutability. These particular features shouldfunction as the so-called ``isolating mechanisms’’ or ``barriers to imitation’’,which make it very hard for competitors to copy successful organisationalpractices. Recognising that intangibility, imperfect imitability and imperfectsubstitutability are particular characteristics of the human resources inorganisations, HRM literature (for overviews, see Beatty and Schneider, 1997;
  3. 3. Personnel Becker and Gerhardt, 1996; Doorewaard and Meihuizen, 2000) emphasises theReview ability of HRM practices in contributing to organisation performance outcomes in a unique and inimitable way. In analysing the impact of one particular HRM31,3 practice (i.e. the team responsibility structure) on team and organisation performance outcomes, this paper fits within the central reasoning of the ``human resource-based view of the firm’’.358 For the purpose of our analyses, we have developed a simple, diagnostic model (Figure 1) of ``team responsibility structure’’ and ``performance’’. We briefly discuss the elements of this framework. Team responsibility structure In this paper, we focus on the two relevant features found in the team responsibility structure. We analyse both the variety of the job regulation tasks and the nature of the division of responsibilities. Team responsibility concerns three groups of job regulation tasks: (1) Work preparation refers to activities, which have to be carried out before the main task can be executed. Work preparation decisions concern work standards (``What do I have to do? How and when is this to be done? In which order?’’), work material (``Which components or what input do I need? How and when do I check the quality and the quantity of this input?’’) and work equipment (``Which instruments do I need? Do I need to adjust this equipment?’’). (2) Work support refers to regulation tasks, which create the conditions of a smooth job performance. These tasks concern job maintenance, job improvement and an overhaul of the work process (quality check, training, and so forth). (3) Work control refers to the regulation of the work process itself (adjustments of work performance parameters, job co-ordination, and so on).Figure 1.Team responsibilitystructure andperformance
  4. 4. Apart from the variety of job regulation tasks, the nature of the division of Teamresponsibilities is important in order to analyse the influence of the team responsibilityresponsibility structure on organisational and team performance. According to structureBenders and Van Hootegem (1999), the concept of team responsibility is rathervaguely elaborated. Sometimes, team responsibility is conceptualised as beingthe autonomy of the team as a whole, whereas at other times the conceptstrictly refers to the responsibility of individual team members. Bryman’s 359analysis (1996) of ``leadership’’ appears to be adequate in providing a furtherelaboration of the concept of team responsibility. His analysis focuses onleadership ``as a process’’, rather than on leadership as a formal position withinan organisation. As a process, leadership consists of a set of decisions concerning the co-ordination and regulation of work processes. Such a decision-making processcan be organised in many different ways. In teams with autocratic orparticipatory leadership, for example, the responsibility for decisions is locatedwithin a formal position of ``team leader’’. In teams with so-called ``dispersed’’leadership (where a team leader appears to be absent), team membersthemselves make all the decisions. In day-to-day practices, various hybridstructures of team responsibility exist (for example, the team responsibility forwork preparation, support and control might be restricted to a few teammembers only, or responsibilities might be divided among various teammembers). For the purpose of this paper, we analyse the impact of two extreme types ofteam responsibility, positioned at the opposite ends of a continuum with regardto the division of regulation tasks. At one end of this continuum, a ``shared-responsibility team’’ can be found: a team with a high level of responsibility forall team members. In this responsibility structure, team members themselvesmake decisions concerning work preparation, support and control in anautonomous way. At the other extreme end, we locate ``hierarchical teams’’, inwhich most responsibilities are assigned to the team leader. The distinction between ``hierarchical teams’’ and ``shared-responsibilityteams’’ is highly relevant, since many team work analyses implicitly assumethat team autonomy stands for team member autonomy (for example, Bendersand Van Hootegem, 1999). However, many so-called teams (for example, leanproduction teams (see Womack et al., 1991) do not leave much autonomy toteam members, whereas all responsibility remains in the hands of the teamleader.Team performanceThe purpose of our research is to find out whether there is a (significant)difference in impact of ``shared-responsibility teams’’ and ``hierarchical teams’’on team performance. For conducting an analysis of the influence of types of team responsibilityon team performance, we have concentrated on two groups of outcomesindicators. First, we investigate the influence of the team responsibility
  5. 5. Personnel structure on performance outcomes with regard to the work process itself. WeReview focus on the following issues:31,3 team productivity (the ratio between output revenues and production costs); the ratio productive labour/non-productive labour;360 product development (the team capacity to further develop products and services offered); product quality (the degree to which product or service characteristics meet the required level of quality); work process transparency (the predictability of changes in work flow processes); adjustment time (the amount of time a team needs to adjust work processes and work equipment); through-put time (the amount of time the team needs to complete a team task); and delivery time (the amount of time a team needs to deliver a number of products or services). Second, we focus on so-called HRM outcomes, which may contribute to the required performance outcomes of the organisation (Guest, 1997). The well- known Harvard-list of human capabilities (Beer et al., 1984) identifies core HRM outcomes, concerning competence and commitment. In our research we analyse the impact of the team responsibility structure on personnel turnover, personnel absence, personnel involvement and personnel competencies. Section 3. Methodology In order to investigate the relationship between the team responsibility structure and performance, we carried out extensive research on team-based work in The Netherlands. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected in 1997 in 36 organisations in industry (n = 28) and the service sector (n = 8) via open interviews with managers (line management and HRM staff) in each organisation and via a contents analysis of relevant documents. A total of 57 organisations, recently involved in team-based work implementation, were requested to participate in this research, of which 40 agreed to allow researchers into the organisation in order to gather the data required and from which 36 observations provided valid and reliable information, complete enough to be included in the overall analysis. Since the small number of cases and the complexity of our research make it difficult to carry out elaborated statistical analyses, quantitative data are presented only at a descriptive level. The complexity of the research object and the diversity of organisations involved required a sophisticated research strategy, for which we developed a quick scan-check-list, consisting of an extended number of team-based work-
  6. 6. related issues. In order to assure the comparability of the data of these case- Teamcomparisons, factual data concerning team-based work have been recorded in a responsibilityquestionnaire with fixed answer categories. Answers to these questions were structuregathered in in-depth interviews with line managers and HRM staff in eachorganisation. In order to analyse the relationship between team responsibilitystructures and team and organisation performance, we rely, to some extent, onthe expert opinions of our respondents. Hence, we report on the perceived 361influence of the team responsibility structure on team and organisationperformance. However, as respondents were protagonists in the implementationand elaboration of team-based work within the organisation, their perceptionsof the results are based on the committed and expert opinions which must betaken into account, especially since the future fate of team-based work in theorganisation will also be based on such perceptions. In each case, we chose to concentrate on the development and evaluation ofteam-based work in one particular production department, which is assumed torepresent the overall HRM strategy of the organisation. This choice offered usan excellent opportunity for carrying out more in-depth analyses of the actualfacets of team-based work in the organisations. In each organisation, the quickscan charts the main characteristics of team-based work, the organisation’soutput market strategies, the characteristics of production processes and serviceflows, personnel flow management and development and implementation ofteam-based work. Unfortunately, the selection of our research population didnot allow us to compare organisations with and without team-based work.Section 4. Team responsibility structures: ``shared-responsibilityteams’’ and ``hierarchical teams’’In order to address the core research issue on the perceived impact of teamresponsibility on team performance in Section 5, we will first analyse thedifferences between ``shared-responsibility teams’’ and ``hierarchical teams’’with regard to the team responsibility structure. Although all organisations have recently introduced and implemented team-based work, these implementations differ remarkably in the field of the teamresponsibility structure. We asked our respondents to indicate who in theteams was responsible for each of 41 regulation tasks concerning ``workpreparation’’, ``work support’’ and ``work control’’. Answers to these questionsprovide us with an in-depth insight into the two types of team responsibilitystructure under investigation. In order to determine any empirical evidence forthe existence of ``shared-responsibility teams’’ and ``hierarchical teams’’ in ourresearch sample, we have concentrated on two indications: (1) Team responsibility: to what extent is the team as a whole responsible for regulation tasks? (2) Team member responsibility: will it be the team leader’s responsibility to take care of these tasks or will it be the responsibility of all team members?
  7. 7. Personnel Team responsibilityReview Unsurprisingly – since our research concentrates on actual operating teams –31,3 70 per cent of the listed regulation tasks were performed by the teams themselves. Some of the tasks were performed by all of the teams (for example, ``dealing with internal suppliers’’, ``on-the-job-training of new team members’’, ``task exchange schemes’’, ``cleaning up’’, and so on). Seldom did other tasks362 belong to the team responsibility (``wages auditing’’, ``dealing with external suppliers’’). We analysed to what extent a team is responsible for each of the regulation tasks. Such an analysis enables us to distinguish between 18 organisations, in which teams have ample responsibility (dealing with more than 70 per cent of the regulation tasks which are relevant for the team) versus 15 organisations, in which the teams have only a restricted responsibility, performing less than 70 per cent of team-relevant regulation tasks. Since the list of regulation tasks consists of tasks concerning work preparation, support and control, we are able to investigate the relationship between the extent of team responsibility with regard to these different task categories. Table I shows a remarkable correspondence in the level of regulation: when teams have ample responsibility with regard to work preparation and support, they do so equally with regard to control tasks. The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for teams with restricted responsibility. Our analysis suggests that, in order to deal with work control activities, a team needs to be responsible for sufficient tasks concerning work preparation and support. In other words, a team needs ``something to control’’, in order to be able to perform control activities. Team member responsibility In Table I, we analysed the level of team responsibility (ample versus restricted), as a first indication of the team responsibility structure. A second indication is the division of responsibilities among the members of the team (``shared-responsibility teams’’ versus ``hierarchical teams’’). Both indications may vary independently. The distinction between ``hierarchical teams’’ versus ``shared-responsibility teams’’ is merely based on the internal division of team responsibilities among various team members and does not depend on the level of team responsibilities. Hence, a team with restricted responsibilities may be Restricted Ample responsibility responsibility Team responsibility ``work control’’ ``work control’’ TotalTable I. Restricted responsibility ``workTeam responsibility: preparation and support’’ 12 3 15teams with ample Ample responsibility ``workversus restricted preparation and support’’ 5 13 18responsibility Total 17 16 33
  8. 8. considered a ``shared-responsibility team’’, provided that all team members are Teamresponsible for those few regulation tasks. responsibility However, in contrast with the conceptual independence of both indications structureof team responsibility, our empirical data suggest that both indications mightbe linked to each other. In our research sample, a significant number of ``shared-responsibility teams’’, in which most of the team responsibilities are allocatedto all team members, also retain an ample number of job regulation tasks at the 363team level, and vice-versa. Table II indicates this relationship with regard tothe division of regulation tasks of work preparation and support and, to a lesserextent, with regard to the division of control tasks. Table II suggests that the teams with a high level of responsibility are also``shared-responsibility teams’’. In other words, the delegation of responsibilitytasks to a team as a whole appears to be strongly connected with theinvolvement in regulation activities of all the team members. Hence, the twoindications of team responsibility seem to reinforce each other. In teams withrestricted responsibilities, team members are hardly involved in regulation,while in teams with ample responsibilities regulation is part of the job of all theteam members.Section 5. The impact of team responsibility structures on teamperformanceDoes team-based work contribute to team performance goals, according to theopinions of line managers and HRM staff? Does this contribution differaccording to the level of team responsibilities and the allocation of theseresponsibilities within the team? We asked our respondents to evaluate the benefits of team-based work forthe team performance, concerning a number of evaluation criteria. Figure 2presents an overview of their opinions concerning the perceived profitability ofteam-based work. We will focus on the most important outcomes of this analysis. Figure 2indicates that line managers and HRM managers highly value team-basedwork for the perceived stimulation of this organisational device for two core Shared- Hierarchical responsibility- teams (Diverse) teams Total``Work preparation’’ and ``work support’’ (a)With restricted responsibility 7 (5) 3 15 Table II.With ample responsibility 3 (9) 6 18 The level of teamTotal 10 (14) 9 33 responsibilities and the allocation of``Work control’’ (b) responsibilities inRestricted responsibility team 9 (2) 6 17 ``shared-responsibilityAmple responsibility team 4 (7) 5 16 teams’’ and inTotal 13 (9) 11 33 ``hierarchical teams’’
  9. 9. PersonnelReview31,3364Figure 2.Evaluation of teambased work (n = 28) HRM outcomes: the development of the competencies of the team members and the stimulation of the involvement of the team members. Apparently, they consider team-based work to be a stimulating environment for personal development and wellbeing. Our respondents do not indicate that team-based work might influence employees’ decisions to stay with a company or leave it (personnel turnover). Apart from human resource management issues, our respondents perceive various positive effects of team-based work on work process outcomes regarding ``product quality’’ and ``team productivity’’. Both criteria are considered to profit optimally from the introduction of team-based work. Fewer
  10. 10. effects, however, are mentioned regarding issues of ``adjustment time’’, Team``through-put time’’ and ``product development’’. responsibility The overall evaluation is highly positive and our respondents indicate that structureall organisations under investigation tend to continue the new policy of team-based work. Nevertheless, we noticed a remarkable difference in theirevaluations, depending on the level and the internal distribution ofresponsibilities in the teams. These differences became more visible when we 365contrasted the evaluations of the teams with ample responsibility with theevaluations of teams with restricted responsibility. First, since team-based work is expected to have a positive influence onperformance (see Figure 2), it may be suggested that this positive influence willincrease when the level of responsibility of the team increases. Our set of dataconfirms this hypothesis (Table III). In general, teams with a high level ofresponsibility are perceived to contribute more to the performance of the team.According to the opinions of the HRM staff and the line management, thisholds true for both HRM outcomes and work process outcomes. With regard tothe HRM outcomes, the policy of giving team members plenty of opportunitiesto regulate their own work has a positive influence on the issues of ``personnelinvolvement’’ and ``personnel competencies’’, in particular. A broad range ofteam responsibilities also strongly supports the work process outcomes``product development’’, ``team productivity’’, ``adjustment time’’ and ``through-put time’’ strongly. ``Delivery time’’, however, might be influenced by teammember responsibility in a negative sense. This analysis clearly indicates that,in order to improve the effectiveness of team-based work, management shouldnot hesitate to delegate various responsibilities to the teams with regard towork preparation, work support and work control. Team responsibility (high versus low)HRM outcomes Personnel involvement ++ Personnel competencies + Personnel absence 0 Personnel turnover 0Work process outcomes Product development +++ Team productivity +++ Adjustment time +++ Through-put time ++ Ratio productive/non-productive Table III. labour 0 Evaluation of the Work process transparency 0 impact of team Product quality 0 responsibility on team Delivery time -- performance indicators, according to the levelNote: The number of signs (+ or –) stands for the difference between the evaluation of of team responsibilityteams with a high level of responsibility versus teams with a low level of responsibility: (ample/restrictedeach sign stands for a 10 per cent difference (n = 28))
  11. 11. Personnel Second, since stimulating the team members’ involvement is considered one ofReview the most valued results of team-based work (see Figure 2), it may be suggested31,3 that ``hierarchical teams’’ (in which team members are involved only in a minor part of the regulation tasks) have a less positive influence on performance, compared to ``shared-responsibility teams’’ (in which all team members are involved in a major part of the regulation tasks allocated to the team). Our data366 confirm this hypothesis. Table IV clearly indicates that line managers and HRM managers hesitate in evaluating team-based work positively in the case of hierarchical teams. This relatively lower evaluation is particularly clear in the criteria directly related to the work process itself (``team productivity’’, ``product quality’’, ``adjustment time’’, and ``product development’’). Less prominent, but likewise visible, is the negative perception of the impact of the team responsibility structure of ``hierarchical teams’’ on HRM outcomes of ``personnel competencies’’, ``personnel involvement’’ and ``personnel absence’’. Hence, if management wants to maximise the contribution of team-based work to performance, it should refrain from allocating most of the team responsibilities to the team leader. Conversely, Table V affirms that, compared with ``hierarchical teams’’, ``shared-responsibility teams’’ have a more positive impact on team performance. HRM staff and line management highly value the impact of shared responsibility on work process outcomes, such as ``team productivity’’, ``work process transparency’’, ``delivery time’’, ``product development’’, and, in particular, ``adjustment time’’. When it comes to HRM outcomes, our respondents have indicated that a positive effect might be expected with regard to ``personnel absence’’. Apparently, responsibility for more regulation tasks Allocation of the team responsibilities to the team leader (high versus low) HRM outcomes Personnel turnover 0 Personnel absence – Personnel involvement – Personnel competencies – Work process outcomes Delivery time + Ratio productive/non-productive labour 0 Through-put time –Table IV. Work process transparency –Evaluation of the Product development ––impact of ``hierarchical Adjustment time ––teams’’ on team Team productivity ––performance indicators, Product quality ––according to the degreeof allocation of Note: The number of signs (+ or –) stands for the difference between the evaluation ofresponsibilities to the teams in which team responsibilities are allocated to the team leader versus those in whichteam leader (high/low) fewer tasks are allocated to the team leader: each sign stands for a 10 per cent difference
  12. 12. Team member responsibility Team (high versus low) responsibility structureHRM outcomes Personnel absence + Personnel turnover 0 Personnel competencies 0 Personnel involvement – 367Work process outcomes Adjustment time +++ Product development + Delivery time + Work process transparency + Table V. Team productivity + Evaluation of the Through-put time 0 impact of ``shared- Ratio productive/non-productive responsibility teams’’ labour 0 on team performance Product quality 0 indicators, according to the degree of allocationNote: The number of signs (+ or –) stands for the difference between the evaluation of of responsibilities to allteams in which team responsibilities are allocated to the team leader versus those in which team membersfewer tasks are allocated to the team leader: each sign stands for a 10 per cent difference (high /low)concerning work preparation, work support and work control affectsemployees’ decision on whether or not to stay home from work. If we keep in mind that ``shared-responsibility teams’’ are closely connectedto high levels of team responsibilities (see Table II), we may expect a combinedpositive effect of (a) teams with ample responsibility and (b) ``shared-responsibility teams’’ on team performance indicators. Our research findings(Tables II and V) suggest that line managers and HRM staff evaluate the effectsof team-based work more positively in ``shared-responsibility teams’’ withample responsibilities, compared with the evaluation in hierarchical teams withrestricted responsibilities. In general, the perception of our respondents leansvery favourably towards teams in which all team members have ampleresponsibilities.Section 6. Team-based work and performanceThe purpose of this study is to analyse the impact of the HRM-decisions withregard to the team responsibility structure (i.e. the division of job regulationresponsibilities between the team leader and the team members) on teamperformance outcomes. Despite the relatively few cases and the limitedopportunities for analysing quantitative data, this study is the mostcomprehensive study on team-based work perspectives which has been carriedout in The Netherlands up to the present date. In 1997, according to theopinions of the line managers and the HRM managers involved in theimplementation of team-based work in 36 organisations in The Netherlands,the team responsibility structure seemed to contribute to team performancesubstantially. Further analysis (not presented in this paper) indicates that thereis a high correlation between the anticipated contribution of team-based work
  13. 13. Personnel and the respondents’ indications of an organisation’s performance criteria. ThisReview indicates that team-based work is supposed to support the organisation’s31,3 general goal. Most significant is the insight, resulting from our research, that teams with high team responsibility and team member responsibility (``shared- responsibility teams’’) with regard to decisions concerning ``work preparation’’,368 ``work support’’ and ``work control’’ have been found to contribute positively to team performance outcomes. In particular, HRM outcomes with regard to ``personnel competencies’’ and ``personnel commitment’’ as well as work process outcomes (``product development’’, ``team productivity’’, ``adjustment time’’) seem to benefit from the HRM policy which stimulates shared responsibilities in team-based work. Less positive effects can be expected from teams with few responsibilities and from teams in which the team leader makes most of the decisions concerning these regulation tasks (``hierarchical teams’’). Hence, according to our respondents, the impact of team-based work depends on the extent to which responsibility tasks form a substantial part of the overall task structure of the team and the team members. From this point of view, we might question the effectiveness of the implementation of teams with a restricted team member responsibility, as is said to be the case in so-called ``lean production’’ teams (Benders and Van Hootegem, 1999). Our research strongly supports the central reasoning of the ``human resource- based view of the firm’’, which states that the intangibility, imperfect imitability and imperfect substitutability of the human resources in organisations will contribute to gaining and sustaining a competitive advantage. This insight emphasises the potentiality of HRM practices in contributing to organisation performance outcomes in a unique and inimitable way. The HRM policy of stimulating the team responsibility structure of ``shared- responsibility’’ will bring about the required uniqueness of the human resources and will influence human resources’ contribution to superior organisational performance. ``Shared-responsibility teams’’ will make job regulation decisions concerning work preparation, work support and work control according to their own particular standards of performance. In doing so, they have internalised the competencies and the commitment pattern, which belong to ``entrepreneurship’’. Members of self-managing teams regulate their activities based on the internalised attitude of the archetype of the entrepreneur: someone who takes care of his or her activities according to his or her own standards of what is good or bad for the business (Doorewaard and Brouns, 1999). Entrepreneurship kills two birds with one stone. On the one hand, it stimulates the employees’ loyalty and commitment and the development of personnel competencies, as a matter of course. On the other hand, entrepreneurship allows the team to develop their own specific way of dealing with regulation, which enforces the required uniqueness and inimitability of a team’s performance; these features should function as ``barriers to imitation’’, which (in turn) should provide a steady stream of rents. In terms of the ``human resource-based view of the firm’’, HRM policies which
  14. 14. stimulate ``shared-responsibility’’ will contribute substantially to the Teamorganisation’s success, according to HRM staff and line managers involved in responsibilityteam-based work. structure As a consequence, the HRM practice of implementing ``shared-responsibilityteams’’ with ample responsibilities might place high demands on the HRMapproach of human resource mobilisation (Doorewaard and Meihuizen, 2000).Bureaucratic regulation reduces uncertainty using strict orders, contractual 369arrangements and destruction of the worker’s autonomy. Human resourcemobilisation ``mobilises’’ – as opposed to manages – employees’ knowledge,skills and motivation. It reduces uncertainty by appealing to workers’commitment, responsibility, entrepreneurship and loyalty. The implementationof ``shared-responsibility teams’’ is assumed to rely on human resourcemobilisation rather than on bureaucratic regulation. Our research further stresses the importance of integrating HRM practiceswhich concern personnel flow management (recruitment, selection, training,supervision, release) with management strategies with regard to the (re)designof organisational structures. To connect these practices is an importantchallenge for both HRM literature and literature on organisational redesign(Becker and Huselid, 1998; Kalleberg et al., 1996; MacDuffie, 1995). In the pastfocusing on organisation behaviour theories, HRM literature and theories oforganisation development have often neglected to pay sufficient attention toorganisational redesign. For example, the importance of team working hasbeen stressed over and over again in HRM studies, but an in-depth analysis ofhow to (re)design organisational structures and work processes in order tocreate different types of team-based working is missing. The same goes – mutatis mutandis – for scientific and managementliterature concerning organisational redesign. Advocates of team-based workfocus on the importance of HRM practices concerning organisational culture,training and workers’ motivation. Nevertheless, the organisational designprinciples seldom pay attention to the ``design’’ of the diversity of personnel andof organisational (sub)cultures. Our research indicates the need to bridge recentinsights from both HRM and organisation design literature. This bridge couldform a rich basis for the theory and the practice of designing and implementingteam-based work successfully.ReferencesBarney, J.B. (1991), ``Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage’’, Journal of Management, Vol. 17, pp. 99-120.Beatty, R.W. and Schneider, C.E. (1997), ``New HR roles to impact organisational performance: from `partners’ to `players’’’, Human Resource Management, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 29-37.Becker, B. and Gerhardt, B. (1996), ``The impact of human resource management on organisational performance: progress and prospects’’, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 779-801.Becker, B. and Huselid, M. (1998), ``High performance work systems and firm performance: a synthesis of research and managerial implications’’, Research in Personnel and Human Resource Management, Vol. 16, pp. 53-101.
  15. 15. Personnel Beer, M., Spector, B., Lawrence, P.R., Mills, D.Q. and Walton, R.E. (1984), Managing Human Assets, Free Press, New York, NY.Review Benders, J. and Van Hootegem, G. (1999), ``Teams and their context. Moving the team discussion31,3 beyond existing dichotomies’’, Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 36 No. 1. Benders, J., Huijgen, F. and Pekruhl, U. (1999), ``Group work in the European Union, results from a survey’’, paper presented at the 17th Annual International Labour Process Conference, London, 29-31 March.370 Boxall, P. (1996), ``The strategic HRM debate and the resource-based view of the firm’’, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 59-75. Bryman, A. (1996), ``Leadership in organizations’’, in Clegg, S.R., Hardy, C. and Nord, W. (Eds), Handbook of Organization Studies, Sage, London. de Sitter, L.U., den Hertog, J.F. and Dankbaar, B. (1997), ``From complex organisations with simple jobs to simple organisations with complex jobs’’, Human Relations, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 497-534. Doorewaard, H. and Brouns, B. (1999), ``Hegemonic power processes in team-based work’’, in Munduate, L. and Gravenhorst, K.M.B. (Eds), Power Dynamics and Organizational Change. III, Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Work and Organizational Psychology, subtheme ``Power dynamics and organizational change’’, Helsinki, 12-15 May, pp. 55-73. Doorewaard, H. and Meihuizen, M.E. (2000), ``Strategic options in professional service organisations’’, Human Resource Management Journal, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 39-57. Guest, D.E. (1997), ``Human resource management and performance: a review and research agenda’’, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 263-76. Kalleberg, A., Knoke, D., Marsden, P. and Spaeth, J. (1996), Organizations in America: Analyzing their Structures and Human Resource Practices, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Kleinschmidt, M. and Pekruhl, U. (1995), Kooperative Arbeitsstrukturen und Gruppenarbeit in ¨ ¨ Deutschland; Ergebnisse einer repra sentativen Beschaftigungsbefragung, IAT, Gelsenkirchen. Kuipers, H. and van Amelsvoort, P. (1990), Slagvaardig organiseren, Kluwer Bedrijfswetenschappen, Deventer. MacDuffie, J.-P. (1995), ``Human resource bundles and manufacturing performance: organizational logic and flexible production systems in the world auto industry’’, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 48, pp. 197-221. Penrose, E.T. (1959), The Theory of the Growth of the Firm, Wiley, New York, NY. Wernerfelt, B. (1984), ``A resource-based view of the firm’’, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 5, pp. 171-80. Womack, J.P., Jones, D.T. and Roos, D. (1991), The Machine that Changed the World. The Story of Lean Production. How Japan’s Secret Weapon in the Global Auto Wars Will Revolutionize Western Industry, Harper Perennial, New York, NY.

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